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Minnesota Law: Can You Get in Trouble if Your Passenger Is Drinking?

Minnesota_State_Patrol-300x2234Sgt. Troy Christianson from the Minnesota State Patrol was recently asked to explain Minnesota’s ‘Open Bottle’ law. He explained that it is against the law for any person to consume alcohol in any vehicle while on a public road. The law also applies to open alcohol containers that are accessible to the driver and passengers.

So what do you do if you have an half-empty bottle of liquor or wine and you want to take it to a friend’s house to consume? Christianson says, “To transport open alcohol containers legally, it must be kept in the trunk or an area that is not readily accessible to occupants of the vehicle.”

The driver of a motor vehicle can be cited for allowing an open bottle, even if they are not in possession themselves. The same law applies in a motor home. No person may legally consume alcoholic beverages whether they are the driver or passenger.

The following motorized vehicles are exempt from Minnesota’s open container law:

·     Off-road vehicles (ATVs) – unless they are being operated on a roadway or the shoulder of a roadway that is not part of a grant-in-aid trail or trail designated for that vehicle

·     Motorized boats

·     Buses operated by a hired driver

·     A vehicle providing limousine service

*Boat operators are exempt from this law as they are not being operated on a public road; however, if you are consuming alcohol on the water the best practice is to have a sober driver because alcohol impairs judgement. 

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson – Minnesota State Patrol at 2900 48th Street NW, Rochester MN 55901-5848.  (Or email him at,

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